The Next Change

I am reminded of the many times I transitioned abruptly. The process is predictably jarring, requires a tremendous amount of energy, and opens up places that may not have seen the light of day for some time.

Human nature requires that I sleep and each time I move some of the most memorable moments speak from a recumbent state, whether having relocated to the guest bedroom, set up a new apartment or having to squat a few nights in the new digs before furniture and additional roommates arrive.

The latter situation calls to mind my first night in a large house I would share with four other young women. I was living in Berkeley, California at the time. I commuted on bicycle and dumpster dived my way each day. I had to make a quick exit from a destructive housing situation and showed up at the new place before any of the utilities were turned on or furnishings arrived. I found myself in a new bedroom with all of my things on the floor around me. The small room on the second floor had no furniture and in fact, would come to house only one item: a double bed, over which was a swinging window. I would discover that a properly weighted book would hold the window open as the weather turned. I looked around the house, realized there was no furniture to speak of and decided I could hole up in my new room and make do.

My possessions were few. They amounted to a guitar, backpack, clothing and shoes and several boxes of pottery. I had been taking classes and learning from my instructor by volunteering at the studio. Robby had included me on some kiln firings and I was accumulating a great deal of ceramic vessels, each one wrapped carefully in bubble wrap and newsprint inside those precious boxes of art.

I didn’t even have a winter coat as it was the East Bay and really not necessary. I had moved my belongings in a few trips on my bike and decided that I could wrap up in many layers and be warm enough in the unheated house. To soften the hardwood floor I unwrapped all of my pottery and made a “mattress” of bubble wrap. I fell asleep after a few minutes of considering the rending of the new situation.

What now, I thought. How will this play out? What kind of life am I traveling into? My choices often carry an element of distress. Perhaps this is natural. We make a change for some reason or another. It seems like it will lead to something better. It often does. There may be some sacrifice but there is almost always a component of change that will alleviate the difficulty that is no longer tolerable. And it feels better…more hopeful. At some point we grow beyond this choice…or the situation devolves and we make another change. The striving and coping is fueled by a will to shift the reality, find some relief. We may get the relief. It may be packaged with some sort of discomfort as well. Some sort of trade off.

That first night I woke repeatedly to the sound of gunshots. Nay, explosions. Actually, the sounds of bubble wrap popping under the weight of my life as I shifted my position…again.

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Christine Jacobson